Saturday, 17 November 2012

A Perfect Spot for a Pot of Tea and a Slice of Cake

Today saw the long awaited opening of a new tea room.  This isn't any old tea room.  This is a tea room opened by my aunt (my mum's younger sister) and one of her friends.  I have known about this for what feels like forever!  I had chatted to my aunt about it and heard all of her ideas about different aspects of how the tea room would look.  In many ways it's just what I would do and reflects the kind of style of many of my favourite tea joints!

The tea shop is called Buscall and Flynn's (the surnames of the two owners) and is in Chelmsford, Essex.  It was truly amazing seeing this becoming a reality. 

After a frantic rush we made it there in time for the opening, phew.  Here is the cutting of the ribbon and declaring it open for business.  It was exciting waiting for the customers to flock in and boy flock in is exactly what they did.  I went along to help out for (what was supposed to be) the morning but as the customers kept coming and the orders needing taking I ended up staying longer than I had intended!  I didn't mind as it was all hands needed on deck for the first day.

I was given a uniform pinny and put to work as a waitress for the day.  Hehe!  I must add here that this is me posing for a picture taken by my brother, I'm pretty sure I did not have this expression on my face when I was taking orders for real!  It was hard work and I am certainly planning on a very chilled day tomorrow to recover.  I was serving customers upstairs and I definitely got plenty of exercise running up and down the stairs.  I have never worked as a waitress before and was so pleased that I didn't spill anything or drop anything (particularly on the customers!) and especially as I was carrying loaded trays full of vintage crockery up and down stairs.

Scones and cakes.  Cream tea anyone?
Mini diddy cupcakes on a gorgeous cake stand made from vintage plates by my aunt.  These particular plates belonged to my beautiful nan.  She would have been so very very proud of my aunt today and what she has achieved.  So wonderful to have some of her crockery there today being enjoyed and displayed.
A fridge full of cupcakes!  Gorgeous!

 All of the furniture and crockery for the tea room has been collected over the past few months by Rachel and Angela.  Chairs and tables were bought in smaller sets from ebay and then painted by Angela and Rachel, along with some other helpers.  The crockery has been amassed from, not only personal collections such as those that came from my nan, but also from a number of car boot sales, charity shops and ebay.  The end result of mismatching cups, saucers and plates adds to the overall charm and provided a talking point for many of the customers today (one of the questions I was asked several times!)  I really wish I could have taken more pictures of the different crockery combinations but I was a bit too busy for anything more than the odd cheeky snap!  The cutlerly is gorgeous as was ordered as sets.

 I did manage to steal a couple of moments to sit down with a gorgeous rose lemonade just before lunchtime rush (which didn't end until closing time.)

 A range of yummy cakes and sandwiches (including bagels and panninis) are served alongside, of course cream teas.  If you happen to find yourself in Chelmsford, please do pop in.  The very lovely Kath popped in today for a spot of lunch with her hubby and gorgeous little boy.  I was so pleased that they could come along today on opening day (and just a bit annoyed that I didn't have time for a spot of catching up, sorry Kath.)
Before they opened, they had always planned to have a half price offer on all food orders on opening day.  Very sadly, a very good friend of my aunt  and (my favourite nearly) uncle passed away on Monday night.  He was a plumber by trade and had done all of the plumbing work in the tea room even though he was very ill.  As a tribute to him they offered all customers the option to pay full price for their food today, with 50% of the money going to Cancer Research Today's customers proved very generous and hopefully they raised a good sum of money to donate in Darren's name.
After a long day on my feet surrounded by cake and food what did I do when I got home?  I baked a cake of course! hehe!  I was sooooo craving cake after seeing so many tasty looking options.  It must be noted here that I did not shun the gorgeous cakes on offer.  They all looked and smelt delicious.  I am gluten intolerant and today there wasn't any gluten free cakes on offer (I have been informed that this won't always be the case!)  My aunt makes scrummy gluten free cakes and always considers me when baking (some family occasions are all gluten free so I don't miss out on anything!)  I look forward to going back very soon for a pot of tea and some cake!  For now here's the cake I had today.


I made this cake one of my absolute favourites.  I LOVE lemon cake.  In fact, I'm pretty sure about this, I think lemon cake is my favourite!  I am so tired (and I was so desperate to eat the cake!) that I forgot to do the lemon juice/icing sugar combo on the top.  Truth is, I think I prefer it this way.  The syrupy bit sometimes makes it too moist and too sweet.  I'm happy with how it turned out (oh and I was an egg short so added some milk! hehe!!  I NEVER usually play around with baking recipes, must have been getting big ideas having spent the day in a tea room!) 
What are your favourite cakes?  What are your favourite recipes/books?  (I love recipe books but that's a whole other post and I will dedicate time to that once my extensive collection is with me in my new kitchen!  I am excited about all my open shelves in the kitchen that I can fill with books.)
Thank you for reading,
Erin x
ps.  Thank you for all of your lovely words on my last post.  On a normal week I will take time to reply to comments but this week has been hectic to say the least, again that's another couple of posts!
pps.  The whole "my favourite nearly uncle thing" I think may need explaining.  My aunt and my (favourite nearly) uncle have been together for 25 years but aren't married.  When I was a teenager I got completely fixated on the idea that they should get married (partly as I hadn't been a bridesmaid by that point and wanted to change that! haha!)  I mentioned it to him every time I saw him, poor man, for at least 3 years!  Whoops!  At that point I used to call him my "nearly uncle" and then added favourite as he was the only one with that title so it made it easy to be the favourite (just like my nan always called me her favourite granddaughter and my brother was her favourite grandson as we were the only grandchidren!)  I must also add that I don't call him that all the time now.  Just every now and again for a joke!


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Super Summer Holiday Memories Blanket

This is the closest to a ta dah I have right now!!  *whispers* it's still not finished!!  Whoops!

Working as a teacher, one of the many advantages are the long summer holidays (yes, there are actually others but perhaps I'll go on to those some other time.)  This year I was particularly lucky as we had a week longer due to working in a host Olympic borough.  I had a few things to do over the summer but hadn't made any big plans due to the fact that I had to write up my dissertation for my MA in Professional Studies in Education for submission in September. 
I didn't want my holidays to be all about work though, I work darn hard during term time and knew my batteries would need recharging before starting the new year in September.  I was keen to use the time to catch up with good friends and spend plenty of time making stuff. 
I love to craft and up until recently had given away everything I had made.  I wanted to set aside some time this summer to rectify that and my number one crafting priority was to make a blanket for myself.  I LOVE making blankets.  I read a fantabulous post by Pip in which she explored why she loves making blankets so much (sorry can't find the actual post now, rats!) It really rang true with me and summed up everything I love about making blankets.  The memories and emotions connected with each one.  Thus my "me" blanket was born.  The name The Super Sumer Holidays Memories Blanket is somewhat wordy but it works for me.  I wanted a blanket that would remind me of a wonderful summer which was full of not much in particular but very wonderful things at the same time.  I decided to make a Starburst Blanket by Jane Brocket from this book.  Over my seven week holiday I took a little basket of yarn with me EVERYWHERE!!  I think everyone who I met up with saw at least four squares produced.  As a result I have squares which hold an array of wonderful memories.  I have squares that were made while I enjoyed the freedom of being able to do exactly what I wanted to, sitting in coffee shops and parks along with a drink and my crochet, squares made in a Cambridgeshire orchard while having lunch with a friend, squares made in Hackney while enjoying coffee and cake with a friend, squares by the canal while catching up with a friend I hadn't seen for too long, squares made on the Eurostar on my way to visit good friends and their new baby, sneaky squares made in the garden in France while the baby and the other adults in the house slept.  So many happy but simple memories.  Everywhere I went, my little green plastic basket full of yarn came too.  Friends who saw me several times began to expect it (I have deleted the pictures of me carrying said basket of yarn!)
such a happy sight - the pleasure in making this came from knowing that it was all mine!!
Early morning crochet in France in my friends' garden before anyone else was awake

Early morning crochet at home after waking up without an alarm (RIP poor Pip mug!!! boo!!)

Millie taking a bit of a fancy to the blanket

Packing squares away from eager paws and claws

Admiring colour combinations

Really enjoying the fact that this blanket is all mine

This blanket is also filled with a mixture of emotions.  It is full of happiness and sunshine and super lovely times but it also represents a stress relief in a time of dissertation writing.  Also, as I'm being completely honest here, it represents a slight feeling of "why did I spend so much time crocheting when I have so many thousands of words to write and now I'm running out of time" despair feeling.  I don't mind that, I'll happily accept those memories too as they were all part of the summer of 2012!

This blanket is still awaiting the ends being sewn in and the final few rows of the border.  I think I was prolonging finishing it as I had told myself that the ta dah moment would happen on my blog, therefore, finishing the blanket represented getting my blogging started.  I don't know why I was so scared and why I put it off.  I will still of course give this blanket the proper ta dah moment that it so truly deserves but only when I'm good and ready.  The intended home for this blanket is draped over a sofa in a living room.  My living room which as of yet doesn't exist.  When I move in a couple of weeks time and my blanket has it's new home too then I will give it it's moment in the full spotlight again.

Thanks for reading! (and thanks to Cuckoo for telling me to stop being such a wuss about the whole blogging thang!)

Erin x